JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Tucson (SSN 770) returned to its homeport of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after the completion of her scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific, May 24.
The successful completion of her Western Pacific deployment was attributed to the exceptional performance of her crew, said Cmdr. Michael C. Beckette, of St. Louis, Missouri, commanding officer of USS Tucson.
"The crew had an extremely successful deployment," said Beckette. "One of our goals as a team was to improve qualifications across the ship."
Five officers and 25 Sailors earned their submarine warfare qualifications and now wear the submarine warfare insignia. Additionally, the crew completed more than 200 individual qualifications, Beckette said.
Commissioned on Aug. 18, 1995, Tucson entered her 20th year of commissioned service, and for many of her crew members this marked their first deployment.
"With many Sailors, this was their first deployment and the crew performed in a very professional manner," said Senior Chief Electronics Technician Billy Daly, from Albert Lea, Minnesota, and Tucson's chief of the boat (COB). "The Sailors also maximized their time while we were underway to get the job completed so they could make the best out of the time they had off."
During deployment, Tucson built relationships with allies across the Pacific and conducted five port-call visits to Guam, Japan, Republic of Korea, Republic of the Philippines and Singapore.
"My favorite parts of this deployment were the port calls," said Machinist's Mate (Nuclear) 2nd Class James Cullum, from McDermott, Ohio. "One of the reasons why I joined the Navy was to travel the world. I had a blast visiting various locations in Asia and getting a feel for their culture and what they had to offer."
While Tucson submariners prepared to return to Pearl Harbor, her crew reflected on the success and challenges on the deployment. Lieutenant j.g. Jimmy Aylward, from Westfield, Massachusetts, said the most rewarding part was the successful completion of missions vital to national security.
"As a proud member of the USS Tucson these past two years, these missions were the culmination of every exercise, evaluation, and maintenance completed to ensure that the ship and crew were equipped to meet the strenuous demands of a Western Pacific deployment," Aylward said. "Participation at this level of national defense is the reason I joined the Navy more than six years ago, and why I selected the submarine force in the first place."
Tucson is the second ship of the United States Navy to bear the name of the Arizona city. It is the 59th Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine and the 20th of the improved Los Angeles-class attack submarines to be built. Twelve vertical launch missile tubes for Tomahawk cruise missiles provide Tucson with great offensive capability. Retractable bow planes give the ship increased maneuverability and under ice surfacing potential.